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Issues and Insights

This page provides links to recent articles, reports and announcements relating to transportation policy, legislation and research. The entries are drawn from a wide range of sources, including national newspapers, magazines and websites. If you come across interesting transportation reading that might deserve posting here, let us know at [email protected]

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The Unstoppable Appeal of Highway Expansion CityLab, Sept. 28, 2021 - U.S. transportation authorities have spent billions widening urban freeways to fight traffic delays. What makes the “iron law of congestion” so hard to defeat?
How to end the American obsession with driving Vox, Sept. 12, 2021 - Data from the EPA shows that the transportation sector is actually the biggest source of pollution in the US, and that light-duty vehicles (or passenger cars) are responsible for 58 percent of those emissions. Overall, the EPA’s research — and the 2021 study — reinforce the fact that the transportation systems of American cities over-rely on cars in ways that are not sustainable should the US actually want to approach its stated greenhouse gas reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030, a number it has to reach in order to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. 
The case for funding bike infrastructure Sep 22, 2021, Vox -  The Transportation Alternatives Program, also known as TAP, was established in the 2010s as a way to get federal money to states and other regional authorities to use for biking and pedestrian projects. As it stands now, different entities including states and metropolitan planning organizations receive annual TAP funding, which they then dole out to localities that apply for it. This program currently represents the largest proportion of federal funding for biking and pedestrian needs. 
Climate Change Is an Infrastructure Problem. A Map of Electric Vehicle Chargers Shows One Reason Why NextCity, September 20, 2021 - Today the U.S. has around 43,000 public EV charging stations...
The existing network is acceptable for many purposes. But chargers are very unevenly distributed; almost a third of all outlets are in California. This makes EVs problematic for long trips, like the 550 miles of sparsely populated desert highway between Reno and Salt Lake City. “Range anxiety” about longer trips is one reason electric vehicles still make up fewer than 1% of U.S. passenger cars and trucks.
Self-Driving Car Company to Test a Second Autonomous Vehicle in NYC Streetsblog, Aug. 13, 2021 - A tech firm that has been quietly testing a single self-driving car on the streets of New York City — which prompted the Department of Transportation to initiate a process to further regulate the testing of such driverless vehicles — is about to deploy a second “look-ma-no-hands” car in Gotham this month, with plans for five more by the end of the year, Streetsblog has learned.
How Car Insurance Impacts Cost of Living Across the U.S. Streetsblog, Aug. 19, 2021 - There’s another important component to differing living costs across the nation that we think deserves additional attention: insurance costs. Nearly all drivers and the majority of homeowners carry insurance on their cars and homes. Insurance premiums vary widely across the US, based on differences in crash rates, losses to natural disasters, and state-to-state variations in legal standards (as well as other factors).
Jane Jacobs’s afterlife: Revisiting The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 60 years later Toronto Globe and Mail, August 8, 2021 - The biggest neighbourhood-level challenges facing mayors today involve challenges -- and parts of town -- that weren’t envisioned in her book. Cozy central-city neighbourhoods are no longer jeopardized by mega-freeways and huge inhuman housing projects; if anything, they suffer too much intimacy, too little population and too little change. And the suburbanization of immigration and poverty mean the districts that most need to shift and evolve are the ones least able to do it on their own, without large-scale rescues. The book’s ideas remain compelling, but today’s mayors need a few new chapters.
The Power of Getting Paid Not to Park at Work Bloomberg CityLab, July 14, 2021 -Repealing the tax exemption for a popular fringe benefit is unlikely, but the discussion doesn’t end there. In a bid to reduce driving and increase fairness, the District of Columbia enacted its Transportation Benefits Equity Amendment in 2020. If an employer with 20 or more employees subsidizes parking at work, the law requires the employer to offer an equal benefit to employees who do not drive.
The Sunbelt’s Transportation Priorities Are Going the Wrong Way Bloomberg CityLab, June 21, 2021 - Many completed and planned Sunbelt light rail investments are poorly designed and are not likely to get much ridership. Highway expansions, for their part, are often geared toward serving new exurban developments...The common thread in these problems is a neglect of market principles. The best indicator of how much transit improvements are needed is how much people are willing to pay for them
The Most Dangerous Roads in America for Walkers Streetsblog, Jul 19, 2021 - Three quarters of the most fatal roads in America for pedestrians are located in low-income neighborhoods, a new study finds — and they overwhelmingly share a handful of notoriously dangerous design characteristics that communities can and must eliminate on any corridor where residents are expected to walk. 
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